You wake up with a kink in your neck and a pain down your back. As you shut off the alarm your mind startles awake, wondering if it’s Sunday, then settles because it’s not. But, it doesn’t take long for it to turn to Ecclesiastes (out of habit these past months), until you remember it’s a new series you’re starting which stirs a mix of feelings only a preaching pastor can understand.
You pull open our bedroom door and it makes that familiar “pop” from the stickiness of humidity. Squinting as you enter the kitchen, muscle memory grabs a cup and pours the coffee.
Soon you meet up with your other morning companions, a Moleskine journal (currently red), your blue ink Pilot Precise Grip Pen, and your Bible.
And there you sit to seek, sort, struggle, and submit.
You turn thirty-nine today. Some laugh at that and say how young it is. But even still, we are aware of time’s pulling us down to the dust, the slow decline of aging we read about in Ecclesiastes.
We see time showing on our faces, lines and spots appearing where they weren’t. We feel time when our bodies do things we don’t want them to and refuse to do what they used to. We hear time in our words, the ones our grandparents used to say: “Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when…?” and “The older we get, the faster time goes.” The tick-tock of our internal clock can’t be silenced. In fact, it gets louder each year.
We lamented the passing of the little and tween years of our oldest as she turned thirteen last summer. And even though we have a toddler to immerse us in all that’s to love about a baby, we even grieve how she’s too quickly leaving her babyhood behind.
“Edgar Allan Poe,” Luc Ferry said regarding Poe’s ‘The Raven’, “suggested death was everything that is unrepeatable.” And if that’s true, we are experiencing hundreds of deaths every day.
But what Jesus wants you to remember on your birthday, even as mid-life beckons you closer, calling you to join its crises like thousands before, is that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
So yes, let’s grieve those deaths of the most unrestful but wonder-filled beach vacations in New Buffalo, MI with our babies. And let’s grieve the short drives to see our best friends across town and our family for holidays. And let’s say goodbye to that newly-wed spontaneity that got us out of bed at midnight to do a Tim Horton’s run. And let’s put to rest our older three’s little kid-isms we loved and laughed over (and which we now say instead of them!). Let’s scratch our heads in disbelief that we’re about to be done with a rear-facing car seat forever, which means no more newborns.
We may never experience these wonderful joys again. Death may indeed be “everything unrepeatable,” but because of Jesus, we can look at the ground where the unrepeatable is buried, and watch as the resurrection of new life springs from that place. . . new life and much of it!
The sun, bursting forth from the horizon this morning and rising in the sky, was forerunning for you the message that today is a day of a hundred resurrections.
Work that kink out of your neck, Honey, so you can look up and out and take in the new life all around you.
Like different, deeper, and more meaningful conversations with our teen. Vacations where we can take books and actually read them. The predictability of a schedule that’s familiar and yet unique because we’ve honed it with our own hands over years and years of living life together. The surprise of our toddler’s sense of humor and spiraling curls and “moy” cute kid-isms to add to our vocabulary. The comfort of these four Florida walls and how distance from close friends and family has made these half-dozen Owens dependent on each other and grateful for each other in a way we otherwise might not be.
Let’s go ahead and stomp death in the face today, remembering Jesus took away its sting, and gave the victory to life.
Resurrection is all around you, and most importantly, it’s in you.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11)
That you would know more of the Spirit’s resurrection power in your 39-year-old mortal body, is my birthday prayer for you.